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Permission to Break Rules

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blackout writing erased
Blackout Poetry…

What? Poetry? Eek, let me run!

If that’s what you are saying, hang in for just a sec. I know poetry scares the heck out of many people. Writing it scares them even more.

But this activity does three things:

  1.  You rediscover the wicked awesome feeling of breaking self-imposed rules and ideally bring that into the rest of your life.
  2. You discover you actually can explore writing poetry and in the process have a curious self-discovery aha moment.
  3. You awaken an appreciation of poetry, for those of you who’ve not really had that experience yet.

The image is a little inspiration for you – blackout poetry created by a few writer friends who joined me yesterday at Squilax Hostel for a writer’s retreat day. Each of us had our unique approach; from simply ‘blacking’ out words to highlight the chosen ones; to writing the chosen words onto the page; to decorating with felts and images. Our poetry also includes writing in words that weren’t on the page and glueing words from other pages when we needed them.

There simply are no rules. However, I’ve noted in workshops where I’ve introduced blackout poetry,  it takes a lot of encouragement to help people understand this. They struggle with trying to make something ‘poetic.’  They’re surprised that they don’t have to use just the words on the page – that they can add words from elsewhere, or simply write in words that are missing. It takes a few minutes of encouragement but once they realize they can do anything, it’s amazing to see their energy lighten up, their eyes sparkle and their creativity blossom.

The clincher that gets people inspired? Affirming over and over that THERE ARE NO RULES.  Our minds so often go first to things like: Am I supposed to do it this way? What’s the right way to do this? I don’t want to do it wrong. (This is also true in making life choices.)

Once given permission to break rules (self-imposed or otherwise), it’s like the mind and soul are ignited. Creativity leaps up yelling “Yay! I get to play!”  and wondrous discoveries happen. (This is also true in making life choices, by the way.)

The How-to’s of Blackout Poetry:

  • Take a page from any book or magazine. (If wrecking a book is against your principles, please know that I, as an author, would be proud to donate pages of my book to your blackout poetry. Or, go to your used book store and ask what books are going to the dump. Yup. That happens. You can give that old book new life)
  • Lightly circle words that stand out as you scan the page. Leave these words visible as you ‘black out’  the other words or create a design that highlights your choice words into a poem.

Seems so simple, yes? It is. A simple thoughtful process. Self discovery and poetry can be this simple, this mindful, and this profound.

Hell, you could even make origami cranes out of the paper leaving a couple meaningful words visible.  No rules, after all!

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I’d be so happy if you would share your blackout poetry here. Or even share what the process was like for you, if you are shy to share the image!  In fact, let me encourage you. If you share in the comments, I’ll do a draw for some cool prize. (Maybe my book, so you can turn it into black out poetry. Ideally, you read it first. It’s quite good. ~shameless promotion~)

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The get together yesterday was to test out Squilax Hostel’s potential for writing retreats. We all agreed it’s a very unique and inspiring location. Besides poetry, we all worked on other writing projects, plus we had tummies full of good food and coffee.

I’m excited to plan future retreats! Are you interested?

5 reasons why we don’t get to the things we want to.

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A few years back, I asked friends to list: “Five reasons why I never get around to doing the things I really want to.”  The answers are priceless, funny, and relatable!

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I would LOVE to have you add your list of five reasons in the comments! Some things will be different now, I imagine. Instagram and pinterest will probably be in some lists!

1. I have ADD (Attentional Delight and Distraction) issues!2. I like to organise and sort all my wonderful ideas, supplies and treasures.
3. My studio gets cluttered with stockpiles of supplies and treasures.
4. Ideas are light and easy to carry around in my head.
5. I keep chasing rainbows……………….

1. I’m working as a technical writer.
2. I’m eating (frikkin inconvenient, when the body demands fuel).
3. I’m sleeping.
4. On Facebook…
5. On Facebook…

1.demanding children
2.easily distracted
3.recent addiction to facebook
6.I cant count properly so time gets lost
11. wow that’s 11 reasons

1. doing other things I really want to
2. dreaming up ways to get to what I really want to
3. on facebook
4. got distracted and forgot what I really wanted to get to
5. what if the idea of my great idea is so great that it’s scary to get to it cuz I might find out it wasn’t that great after all?

1. i clean house instead, because that is easy and how can you go wrong, really?
2. what i really want to do seems too involved and i will have to START somewhere
3. i get lost in finding or needing new materials or equipment
4. etsy snares me and i think, “wow…maybe i should try THAT instead”
5. sometimes i am afraid that the actual piece won’t live up to the idea in my head.

1. Real responsibilities (kids, job, the dishes)
2. Fake responsibilities — you know, those things I take on that really belong to someone else
3. Email
4. Guilt (Aren’t those real and fake responsibilities more important?)5. The stuff all over the table

Finding Magic, Hearing Crashes on the Rooftop

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painted christmas tree

 

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”   

ROALD DAHL

 

 

Christmas: it is a celebration of magic, with choices of what that means to each of us…

  • A celebration of the Spirit of Santa, love, family, friends
  • A celebration of spiritual events of many cultures and endless centuries that seem to all coincide with this time of year
  • A celebration of the magic of our earth, the sun, and the galaxy creating seasons, now turned Winter on the solstice.
  • Other (I’m sure some of you have other)

The earth, the universe, the spirits, all the magic – it does just fine on its own without our interference. The gift given to us as mortals is to have the opportunity to notice and truly feel the magic; expand our limited thinking to become a conscious part of it.

And there is a way. At Christmas: there’s another celebration that is key – the children. We need only learn from the children, who know so much more than we who have grown up and had it knocked out of us by some false sense of ‘reality’ and ‘fitting in.’

Innately, we know the children are our gifts and can teach us the magic. At Christmas, we most honour them and their belief in magic, than we do anything else during the season. We act as if it’s our adulting job to humour their imagination, but that’s not true. We do it because we still want to believe and, for the majority of adults, only through the children can we vicariously connect with the magic. Still, we knock it out of them as they grow because as adults we’ve grown a bit stupi… er… less wise. We just follow like sheep with what happened to us.

A child has a brilliant imagination. And, people, it is imagination that is the key to a higher level of connection and knowing. Children ARE wiser and more attune to all that is, than we adults who lose it and then think we are the teachers. No, adults, we are not the teachers. Sure, we can teach good eating habits, and healthy choices, and math and spelling and much more. But not spirituality, not ‘knowing’, not intuition, not inner wisdom, not imagination. Kids are born with all of that. We could, however, be the expert support systems who both learn from the children and support and encourage their way of being.  (And yes, grown ups can relearn… more on that below)

When the child hears the reindeer on the roof, or is certain Santa is in the home – they are right. They’ve connected at a higher level to the extra magic that arrives at Christmas. They can feel it in a way they’ve heard in stories – because Spirit does what it can to help us mortals recognize there is so much more to our universe than what we can see with our eyes.

A scuffling of reindeer hooves heard so clearly in a higher consciousness moment between child and spirit – there is nothing more real than that.

I am fortunate to have had enough otherwise inexplicable magical experiences to allow me to not entirely grow up into an unbelieving adult. And it is because I believe, that I heard the crash on the roof and scuffling of hooves in the wee hours of Christmas this year. It is because I still believe that, (after listening briefly in an adult way to make sure no one was crying), I could simply fall back asleep with a smile on my face.

If you have found the magic, celebrate. If you are searching, find a child. If there is no child nearby,  take yourself back to you childhood. Let go the thought: “It was only my imagination.”  Sometimes a simple writing trigger like the following can be all you need to reconnect:  “I remember that moment of magic when…”

Merry magic to all!

~~~~~
Ps. Those magical experiences I mentioned? I just couldn’t let those stories go unwritten: “Beyond All Imaginings – a magical memoir”

 

Children are brilliant… how to learn from them

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Children are brilliant. Adults… not so much. Sorry.

We’ve forgotten that if we put a tutu on our head for a wig, and an oversize blazer around our waist, we can shift our thinking into that of a mermaid. And if a mermaid were thinking through our problems, ideas, ways of being.. she certainly would trigger some unique ideas. Way better ideas. If we kept the wig and blazer on, we might even turn those ideas into actions!

 

Hauntings and Heroes

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Almost six months since the launch of Writerly Kits; the third kit is out; and oh, what a learning curve.

Need a brain workout? Start up a new business!

It’s been a roller coaster, but each time the kit is put together and sent out, I feel pretty good about it. When writers share how the kits and contents are working for them, I do feel like I’m on the right path.

I know the challenges of starting and finishing written works – both my own, and my clients. I also know that those stories haunting to be told can only be told by the hauntee!

And most of all? I know the almost indescribable feeling of holding that published book in hand. I know – that’s lazy of me. I really ought to take more time to describe the feeling. For now, here’s a little link to a brief moment when a box of my books arrived!  Right here.

All of this is why I am passionate to support writers to get to their books. And now I’m happy to reveal Kit # 3 –

Hauntings and Heroes.

May it support writers to get their damn books done, too.

 

This classy and magical kit arrived at the perfect time of year to for writers to make friends with their creative monsters and the book that haunts to be written.

What’s Included:

Birchwood Writerly Box: a treasure all on it’s own. Designed and crafted by Kyle Rankin at Kamloops Makerspace. Supporting our creative community!

100 Demon Dialogues by Lucy Bellwood: This illustrated book is so inline with our Novel Minds Process – the process that uses your imagination to explore, discover and play with the characters in your head. Writerly subscibers will love, and relate to, Lucy’s demons so much that I’m sure they’ll soon get to love the nasty little inner critics in their mind, plus give much more credit to the hero who can get them to their creative process more often and more easily! Also, the cover of this book is extraordinary: Inspiration for future covers for the writers.

Author’s Letter from Lucy Bellwood: Such an authentic letter from one writer to another, about her life as a writer. Written from a geranium-studded balcony as she tours with her new book.

Almost Blank Notebook: During Nanowrimo, or anytime, practise the technique of Lucy Bellwood. Comes with random quotes. We trust that synchronicity makes sure the quotes are the right ones for each kit recipient.

Singing Wands: Pure magic to clear the way for writing or for life. Each one unique in it’s look and it’s sound. Incredibly grateful that the creator, Bip Nelson, supported our writers in this beautiful way.

Porcelain Writerly Candle Pot: Made with love by the curator, who is also a ceramic artist. Our writerly ship, cogs, damn book done may be found on each one, highlighted with 24 kt fire-on gold. Nothing like lighting a candle to mark the start of a writing session. Comes with silver and gold teacandles.

Raven Keychain: A charming bronze keychain with a quote from Alice in Wonderland. A nice reminder that you are a writer, no matter what is going on in your day.

Inky Sisu Editing Tips: A great collection of tips from professional editor, Leena Niemela, to keep in mind as writers head into their writing, plus what is handy to know when it is time to get their book edited.

A pen, of course! From our ever growing collection of ‘great pen’ finds.

Wellness Teas: A collection of organic teas to provide a little balance to all the coffee writers are likely to drink during Nanowrimo!

Best Damn Licorice Ever: I was stunned by how delectable Panda All Natural Licorice is! For those who don’t love licorice, we recommended it be used as a bribe for beta readers, editors or small children.

Theobroma Chocolate Bar: Yummy and organic, a treat to celebrate writing times! Or, you know, maybe the minute the kit is open.

S.I.P.s: A collection of unique writing tips, triggers, and inspiration to keep you writing, especially handy when one feels stuck.

If you found out you were going to die tomorrow, what would you regret not having done in your life?

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Now there’s a somber thought.  I know.  But that question, “If you found out you were going to die tomorrow, what would you regret not having done in your life?” is the question that led me to finish and publish my memoir, Beyond All Imaginings.

In my life and creativity coaching practise, I have, on occasion, asked a client that question. When I asked myself the question, the answer,  “FINISH THE BOOK!” screamed in my head.   THE book… not the first, not the only, but THE book that is a memoir of a very strange and magical time in my life.

Sure, I was procrastinating. It’s a strange story to tell. What would people think?

BUT, the moment I asked myself the question and heard the answer, I knew it was essential to my soul to publish the story.

There are no words to describe  the feeling of publishing a book that means so much to you. I’m a writer and I don’t have the words. Satisfying, contentment, peaceful, relieved, a purpose completed, frightening and fulfilling, honouring the loved ones, honouring the magic.  These words don’t say enough but if I bundled them into a new word and sprinkled them with magic, that might do it.

Because it has always been a constant in my life, coaching and otherwise, to know of people who truly want to write, but who just can’t seem to get to it,  I suppose it’s been a natural progression to take my passions and find a way to support more writers to get to their writing.  Nobody else can tell the stories that are haunting them to be written. And the magic of writing and sharing the stories? It matters. So much.

But back to the question. Step away from my answer about writing my book.  Ask yourself:

If you found out you were going to die tomorrow, what would you regret not having done?

Take a moment, listen to your answer.  Might you honour that answer?

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Here’s my book, with a little excerpt:

bai thumbnail for musingalong

 

bai excerpt art better

Curious? If you’d like to read more about it, pop over  here

If you’d like a signed copy, please let me know. I love the synchronicities and connections that seem to happen when I’m signing a book for someone!  (janet@novelminds.ca)

 

Writerly – Why? What? What’s next?

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Hello my favourite people who follow the blog I am most likely to keep up!

You may have noticed I’m getting to put all my creative passions into a new project: Writerly Kits.  Coaching, creativity coaching. Writing. Painting. Pottery. Coffee. Ships. Alternate Identity Trading Company. A hint of magic.  Insightful contributions from grandchildren. And especially, supporting others to find their best way to get to the things that truly matter. That matters.

I’m delighted by this project. Only the endless learning around getting the word out there is a bit of an … um… endless learning. Ha ha. But I’m learning.

I’m sharing what’s inside these Writerly Kits. Just thought you’d like to know more about this crazy project.
I’d absolutely love to hear what you think about this concept, and would appreciate any ideas you’d like to share.  Thanks in advance!

September “Imagination Gone Wild”  2018 Kit Reveal

Imagination Gone Wild!

The Theme: Landing on doorsteps now, an  experience that will take your imagination and intuition to a whole new level!  Really, this is a gift for you from your imagination.

As creative folks, I know you already have a good imagination. You already do think outside the box. But, we do end up creating a new box – it’s a weirder shape than the average box  but it, too, can use some wild ways to take it up a notch;  for writing our books, for making it easier to get to our writing, and even more, to enhance all we do in our lives.

What’s included:

Birchwood Kit: Value $40

Writerly Notebook and Planner: Value $44  An unusual twist –  getting to use your imagination to help you get organized and focussed in a way that makes sense to you. Our imagination is everything – including key to making those typically logical left brain functions work better!

For your planner, we’ve included:

  1. Birchwood engraved notebook covers, designed by us and created by Kyle Rankin and Kamloops Makerspace.
  2. Dividers with a pocket, an old fashioned library card,and an oldstyle luggage tag.
  3. Sections:
    1. Weekly planner pages
    2. Creativity and imagination builders
    3. Quality plain paper
    4. Lined paper
    5. Post-it dividers
    6. Art paper
    7. Torn paper (with a purpose!)

Sharpie Fine Art Pens:  Value $5 The best thing Sharpie has made yet, we think!

Alternate Identity Trading Company Cards: Value $12  A collection of wild characters nagged to be included to assist writers as they take their imaginations to a whole new level, or ten.

Character stickers: Value $4  Explore traits, quirks, and even sleeping habits of the characters in your stories, (or even in your novel mind!) Great moveable stickers for your writerly notebook!

Zack’s Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans: Value $5   Locally roasted and loved and wow to kicking your imagination in gear!

Zack’s Costa Rica Blend Coffee Beans: Value $4  A favourite in town!

Imagine Calm Lavender:  Value $5  To calm that wild mind when needed. Grown, harvested and created by children who also sprinkled extra magic on top.

Do Not Disturb Door/computer hanger:  Value $ 6  Fun, isn’t it?

Letter from Indie Author, Dennis Staginnus:  Priceless support and encouragement

Letter to and from your imagination: $3

Green Tea packets: $1

Wood Kit total retail value: $129

Kraft Kit total retail value: $89  (1st and 4th kits are wood, 2nd and 3rd  kits arrive in our beautiful kraft manuscript size box, repeating)

All for subscriber price of $68 (or less if you choose 6 month or yearly subscription options)

This kit is too precious not to make available for a little longer. Check it out here  

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What’s Next?

Arriving on your doorstep just in time for
Hallowe’en and NANOWRIMO

Not kitschy Hallowe’eny – this classy kit arrives at a perfect time of year to make friends with your creative monsters and the book that haunts you.
This is the boost you’ll love to get your damn book done!

~~~~~

And this is what was in our first ever Writerly Kit:  “Seaworthy”
July 2018

Item by item reveal, plus a sweet box opening video here.

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